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Picture Page

March 2006

One that's not quite what it appears to be.....

The picture to the right shows four common .30 U.S. Carbine ball loads, the headstamps indicating production by several American military and contracted ammunition makers during the Korean War. While it appears I goofed and included two cartridges made by the Lake City arsenal, this is not the case. One of these is not what it appears to be, having been made neither at the facility nor in the year indicated by its headstamp. In fact, it wasn't even made in this country. Though it closely resembles the real thing, the second cartridge from the left is the impersonator. Note the similarity of its headstamp and flat brass primer to the legitimate Lake City cartridge on its right; the only apparent difference between it and the other cartridges is its wider ejector groove. In addition to its having a fraudulent headstamp, it is Berdan primed, though this would only be evident when one looks into one of the fired cases, or attempts to reload one.  The story that came with this box of cartridges was that it was made in China in the 1960s for use by the communist forces in Vietnam; the reason behind the use of this particular headstamp is a mystery to me, but it most likely was intended to cover up its origin. The generic box that this cartridge came from is shown in the second picture. It holds 50, is of one piece construction held together with staples, and has end flaps and a slide-out tray. It is unmarked except for the top, which is stamped 7.62 MM LC, the metric designation providing a good clue that the cartridges are not all that they appear to be. The third picture is a close-up of the head of the sectioned cartridge that is lying on the top of the box, and provides a good view of the primer and the primer anvil, which is made integral with the head. The case has two flash holes, one of which can also be seen in the picture. Also note the apparent lack of a line in the metal defining the outer edge of the primer cup from the  case head. The primer cup appears to have been cast in place, but if this were actually the case, it would not be possible to get the priming compound in place. In an effort to prepare one of the cartridges for photographing the primer pocket, I tried several different approaches to removing the primer, each a little more dangerous than the previous one and all to no avail. In the interest of avoiding injuring myself, I finally had to settle for sectioning the case. These primers are squeezed in so tightly that I'm convinced there is no way to remove one without damaging the case, and I hereby throw out the gauntlet to challenge anyone to try. Once fired, there is no use for the empty cases, and they may as well be trashed. On the other hand, due to the corrosive priming in these cartridges, it may be a good idea to trash them before you shoot them. That wide extractor groove should be a give-away to identifying them, but they can also be identified by their lighter weight. I determined the average weights of the complete cartridges, the bullets and the powder charges from a sample of the Chinese cartridges and the US manufactured cartridges, which revealed that the Chinese case (or, more accurately, the seemingly fused case/primer combination) is significantly lighter than the US case. The weights were as follows :


Complete cartridge:

Chinese - 188.0 grains

US - 192.0 grains


Bullet: (the Chinese bullet is on the left side in this picture)

Chinese - 106.3 grains

US - 106.2 grains


Powder: (the Chinese powder is on the left side of this picture)

Chinese - 13.0 grains

US - 12.9 grains








Improved 300 Magnum or Improved AMU?????

Here's an item that I picked up on one of the internet auction sites, a full box of Remington .300 Magnum Improved AMU. I have to assume that there is also a .300 AMU out there that someone decided needed improving upon, but that would just be a guess. I have to admit that I have absolutely no information about this cartridge and, other than having seen one or two single examples listed at outrageous prices on the internet recently, I had not heard of it before. The price was quite reasonable, and I was able to add another cartridge that I haven't a clue about to my growing collection, much to my wife's dismay ("But you already have lots of cartridges. Why could you possibly need more?"). The headstamp, the first on the left in the picture below, is interesting, with the odd spacing indicating that the bunter was likely made from an existing bunter for another caliber by grinding off the lettering that was not wanted. A comparison of the the headstamps in the picture would suggest that a bunter for the .300 H&H Magnum (the headstamp in the middle), would be a likely candidate for having been modified to produce the .300 Improved AMU headstamp.

The bullet in the .300 Improved AMU has a  hollow point. The dimensions of the case are:

bullet - .308"

neck - ..335"

shoulder - .485"

base (above the belt) - .507"

base (at the belt) - .525"

rim - .523

case length - 2.770"

overall length - 3.741"


These case dimensions closely resemble the .300 Weatherby Magnum and the 8mm Remington Magnum, the third cartridge in the picture.


I'd appreciate any information that anyone could provide about the .300 Improved AMU.







More of those interesting .45-70 headstamps.....


When first introduced, the .45-70 and .45-55 cartridges made at the Frankford Arsenal used the  Benet inside primer. Experimentation with externally primed cases began in early 1877, first using the Berdan primer,  and later the Gill boxer-style primer. In 1882, the decision was made to adopt the externally primed case as the standard. Production of Benet primed cases was suspended in June or July of 1882 to allow the necessary equipment changes to be made. Production of the new cases began in August. The cartridges in this picture were all made around this transition period. The first two are examples from the last months of standard production of Benet-primed cases at the arsenal. The first one, produced in May of 1882, was originally a ball load, as evidenced by its 4 character headstamp and its 2.1" length, but apparently was rejected or condemned, and was converted to a blank by pulling the bullet and crimping the case mouth. The insides of the case mouths on these will usually have a green residue produced by a reaction between the copper and the bullet lubricant. The second, made in June, is a fired ball load. I don't have a Benet-primed example made in July, and suspect that there was no production at all during that month; if I'm incorrect, I'd appreciate it if someone who has one would let me know and send me a picture. The third cartridge has an external primer, and was made in August, the first month of standard production. The last two cartridges are blanks, having been originally made as such based on their three character headstamps and their shorter lengths. Note that these two are Benet-primed, but have headstamps indicating production in September and October of 1882. Apparently, the production lines for blank cartridges continued to utilize and headstamp Benet-primed cases after production of the externally primed cases began, probably as a means of using up the inside-primed cases on hand. I have none of these inside primed blanks made after October of 1882, nor do I have any externally primed blanks made prior to1883